We believe we are the only ones. The only ones that aren’t cool. That we alone “don’t get it”. Trust me. We are not alone. I work with people from 6-92, low income, C level executives, students to business owners and I’ll tell you now that we are all the same and have the same fears.
You may assume it’s about how old you are and that you’re too old to learn. That’s not it at all. We are ALL learning and adapting to new technology every day and no one has it all figured out. I get frustrated with those that call themselves experts or “ninjas” because that implies that they know everything. That’s impossible. It makes me laugh to hear someone call me an expert when I’m introduced to an audience. My response is, “I know more than the average bear”. Please know that it’s okay to have and ask questions, in fact, that’s exactly what you should be doing.
And kids today? They aren’t smarter than you, I promise. They have it way easier than those over the age of 30. With punch cards, DOS, and floppy disks, we’ve had so many forms of technology to adapt to that those that were born with touch sensitive tech simply don’t know how far we’ve come. Yes, they’ve been using technology practically since birth but that doesn’t mean they have the advantage. You can catch up. They may know how to push the buttons but frequently they lack the critical thinking skills when it comes to using it appropriately. This is not about age. It’s about experience.
If you’ve read Malcolm Gladwell’s “Outliers”, you know that 10,000 hours of practice will make you an expert. Get in there. Play with the technology. Ask questions (no one will think you’re dumb). Don’t be afraid to make mistakes. It gets less and less scary the longer you work with it. The best way to learn is by doing. And the truth of it is, when it doesn’t work (often), that’s when you learn the most.
The bottom line is, tech is here to stay. From our cars, to our phones, our entertainment, business, banking, healthcare, shopping, and travel, technology is present and advancing. The sooner you put down your fear, the faster you can adapt. Remember, adaptation is what survival is all about. There’s no point in being afraid of it, it won’t bite you. Accept that change happens every day, all day long. The sooner you accept it, the easier it’ll be. Take a deep breath, step into change, and you’ll be alright. Promise.
I frequently hear this statement, “Go find a college student/teenager/young person to do your social media. They are young. They know how to do this better than I do.” What’s your reaction to that? Does it sound right to you? If I were to swap out social media for a car, do you think it would be the same? Just because they are young and social media is new doesn’t mean they know how to use it well.
It’s your brand. Are you prepared to give complete control to a teenager?
I learned about New York City’s first digital officer, Rachel Sterne (@rachelsterne), recently. She is only the world’s second person to have such a title. The New York Times article talking about the challenges she faces highlight the new frontier that government is entering into. She is helping one of the most iconic cities in the world transform their digital face and interaction with citizens. For such an important role, I would consider her young at 28 (I’m 34 and still considered a baby by many). She is constantly asked the question why she deserves a 6 figure salary when a high schooler could do it for free. (I love her ability to graciously navigate this fairly offensive question.)
Sure, go get yourself a neighbor kid to manage your digital reputation. What could go wrong?
Just because it’s new, doesn’t mean it’s easy. Stop underestimating the power and degree of difficulty involved in social media. Make sure you do your homework, research your target audience, craft communications that will resonate, and deploy your plan. Regardless of your tool, the strategic plan is the same.
I think we experience ageism more as we grow older. We experience it from ourselves more than any other source. A large part of my services revolve around training users on technology. I hear this over and over, “I’m too old.” “Everyone else gets computers but me.” “I don’t get this stuff because I’m too old.” I think it starts around 40. We put OURSELVES out to pasture.
Tim O’Reilly didn’t coin the term Web 2.0 until 2004. Websites weren’t even available until the late 90′s. Why do we beat ourselves up so much when it comes to technology and age? Where is it written that everyone is supposed to know? We don’t! We have to learn and grow every day as the world changes around us.
Even though we think we CAN’T, we ARE. Did you know that almost 50% of adults 50-64 are social networking? And 26% of those 65 and over are as well? (Pew Research)
Next time you find yourself saying you’re too old, realize that you are as young as you feel. The only way to stay ahead of the waves is to grab a surfboard!
I have a grandfather that just turned 92. He’s been complaining about being old since he was 70. Not to beat a phrase, but that gets old quick. He’s bitter about it to say the least. This is a person CONSUMED with thinking about their age. I’m trying to find ways to connect with him in loud family functions, ways to let him know that even though he’s not able to keep up with the conversation and is largely silent, he’s still a big part of our family.
Today he was watching my 4 year old plays games on my iPhone and he was having hard time believing that at her age she could make it work. Earlier in the day I had referred to my iPhone as “a computer that can make phone calls” and he kept saying, “You keep calling it a computer.” and shake his head in disbelief. I would nod. He would look at my daughter again and I could see it sink in for him what a smartphone really was. He picked it up, started asking questions, and didn’t stop for 20 minutes.
I train people of all ages to use technology. Businessmen, students, female executives, retired, elderly, young and old. I show people how my iPhone works every day. I’ve never gotten so much joy from teaching someone how to manipulate a computer. At 92, the concept that computers won’t have a mouse, that it can be operated with pinching and grabbing, and that technology as he had known it had changed forever. I even threw in that there are computers that can be manned with your thoughts alone (it’s true).
This man taught me how to tie my shoes. But I know that he is not long for this world. I’ve spent years supporting my grandmother in figuring out how to alleviate his pain, make him comfortable, and find something to occupy his time but today we were transported. I was teaching him and he was the excited student learning about a whole new world. He forgot how old he was. He forgot that he was cantankerous and miserable. He was intensely working through new concepts and ideas, his brain working harder than it had in awhile. He smiled and laughed, shook his head in surprise. He was timeless. I was the teacher and he was learning to tie his shoes. That is something I will never forget.